Daniel A. Werning, "The semantic space of static spatial prepositions in hieroglyphic Ancient Egyptian. A comparison with nine Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages based on the Topological Relations Picture Series", in: Silvia Kutscher and Daniel A. Werning (Eds.), On Ancient Grammars of Space. Linguistic Research on the Expression of Spatial Relations and Motion in Ancient Languages, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2014, 195—326

Abstract

Based on Bowerman & Pederson’s Topological Relations Picture Series, the author has researched the
semantic space of static spatial prepositions of Hieroglyphic Ancient Egyptian (Egyptian, Afro-
Asiatic), a dead language written from the 3rd mill. BCE to the 1st mill. CE. The results are compared
with TRPS data from Arabic, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Russian, and Spanish, which
were mined for the sake of this research. Various suggested on–in scales are evaluated against the
data, which are finally displayed on a (re)arranged similarity space map (Levinson & Meira).
Interpreting the data, the author verifies that in addition to VERTICAL_ON (“support from below’)
and IN (“functional control by border’), ATTACHED is a veritable semantic space of its own. He further
argues that the use of INSIDE prepositions is mainly motivated by the features “control’ and “pragmatic
stress/markedness’, and that there is a phenomenon, tentatively labeled Paradoxical Figure–Ground
Reversal, in the cases of which a preposition is cognitively picked on the basis of a sequence B–
PREPOSITION–A, although the actual utterance exhibits the opposite sequence A(figure)–PREPOSITION–
B(ground). Furthermore, the author enriches Skopeteas’s typology of ON–ABOVE distinctions through
adding the cases of ON_TOP and OVER(LAPPING). He also addresses the case of distinctions in the
INFERIOR domain. Comparing some VERTICAL_ON, ON_TOP, and ABOVE prepositions that are based on
body part terms for the “head’, the author discusses differences in the degree of grammaticalization of
these grams in Egyptian. Finally, he highlights the remarkable case of the conflation of BEHIND and
AROUND in an Egyptian preposition.

Published In

Silvia Kutscher and Daniel A. Werning (Eds.), On Ancient Grammars of Space. Linguistic Research on the Expression of Spatial Relations and Motion in Ancient Languages, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2014